Opposition leader Raila dismisses DP Ruto dynasty tag

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020 00:00 |
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga during a past interview at Milele FM studio in Nairobi. Photo/PD/FILE

 Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has dismissed the “Dynasty versus Hustler” rallying call being advanced by Deputy President William Ruto’s allies ahead of the 2022 General Election.

The ODM leader said neither he, President Uhuru Kenyatta nor Baringo Senator and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi — sons of Kenya’s first two presidents — belong to any dynasty, saying their fathers did not grow up in privilege.

Speaking during the Milele FM’s Breakfast Live Show yesterday, Raila rubbished the comparison, saying it was wrong to profile other people in such a manner and added that Kenya’s founding President Jomo Kenyatta was a water meter reader in the Nairobi.

“He (Jomo) was a meter reader in Nairobi before he went to the UK to study and if you follow the story of Moi in Sacho, he was a poor boy from a poor background… if Kenya was a dynasty then Uhuru would have taken over from his father but it is not,” he said.

Raila said he worked his way up the ladder and never relied on his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga’s name as the country’s first vice-president and doyen of opposition politics.

Hii ni porojo tu kwa sababu Kenya si nchi ya kifalme (this is non-sensical because Kenya is not a monarch,” he said, adding that they have all worked hard to the pinnacle of the country’s leadership. 

“When I was campaigning in Langata (MP), he (Jaramogi) was also campaigning for his seat in Bondo.

My grandfather was a poor man and Jaramogi went to school by luck because the head teacher at Maseno employed him at the school,” he said. 

In a bid to endear themselves to ordinary Kenyans, Ruto has branded himself a “hustler” and a son of a poor man who surmounted all odds to become the country’s deputy president by God’s grace.  

But Raila has rejected such profiling, saying Kenyans should instead focus on service delivery and one’s leadership capabilities. 

“Nobody votes for me because I am the son of Jaramogi. Jomo (founding President) was a meter reader and I have told Gideon not to be intimidated by such stories… fight for what you believe in as a Kenyan,” he added.

At the same time, the ODM leader assured his supporters that the journey to Canaan hasn’t stopped, saying they are going to proceed with their journey soon. 

“We reached River Jordan where we met crocodiles but we are building bridges and I am confident Kenyans will reach Canaan where there is plenty…” Raila said, adding that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report is almost ready.

During the 2017 presidential election, Raila likened himself to Joshua in the bible who took the Israelites to Canaan — the promised land.

He has been oiling his political machinery and all indications now show he might be in the State House race come 2022. 

He hinted that he could take another stab at the presidency although he insisted that he is at the moment focused on steering constitutional changes that will help cure past injustices. 

Noting that he is at the moment concentrating on helping President Uhuru to build one united and prosperous nation through the BBI, the former PM said he was confident the journey to Canaan will be accomplished.

Raila said his Handshake with Uhuru has enabled him to speak freely to the President, adding that his silence should not be misconstrued to mean he was no longer concerned with problems afflicting Kenyans such as corruption. 

“When I need to, I just pick my phone and call him and he acts…” he said. However, he said that ODM is not entering into a post-election coalition with Jubilee because their cooperation is based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) they signed during the Handshake.

Although the Handshake brought a political truce in the country after the hotly contested 2017 presidential elections it has had the effect of pushing Ruto to the periphery.

He is on record questioning the intentions of BBI, saying it was meant to cut his influence ahead of 2022.

Historic Handshake 

The BBI was borne out of the March 9, 2018 Handshake between Uhuru and Raila, a move which caught their supporters unawares.

The brief event at the steps of Harambee House, the Office of the President, degenerated into an all-out war in Jubilee.

Raila, however, said he was not thinking about 2022 polls,  adding that he had not discussed it with Uhuru.

“We only talked with Uhuru about the problems facing the country such as electoral conflicts and the need for long-lasting solutions,” he said. 

“We realise that in order to achieve the dreams of our founding fathers, we must first end tribalism and discrimination is public service and all other forms of injustice,” he said, adding: “No Kenyan should sleep hungry, jobless or die because of lack of money to buy medicine.” 

Raila, who spoke from his Karen residence, expressed optimism that the coronavirus pandemic will end soon and pave the way for the country to hold a constitution referendum before the end of the year.  

The 14-member BBI Steering Committee is expected to hand in their final report to President Kenyatta soon.

If adopted, the report is expected to alter the governance structure by introducing the position of prime minister and the office of Leader of Opposition, among other things. 

“Nobody can stop reggae. Reggae hasn’t stopped, we’re just at halftime and players will soon be back on the pitch,” he said, adding: “Reggae will bring necessary constitutional changes to the country.” 

And, in reference to Ruto and his allies, Raila warned politicians against politicising the war on corruption, saying they should let the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) do their jobs.  

He also fingered the Judiciary for allegedly being lenient and not doing enough in the fight against corruption.

Corruption, he said, had tainted the country’s image and time had come for all Kenyans to join the fight. 

He urged Kenyans to support President Kenyatta in the battle against the three challenges currently facing the country: the coronavirus pandemic, floods menace and locust invasion.

When asked about recent happenings at the Senate and others proposed in the National Assembly, Raila said Minority leaders in the two Houses led by Senate Minority Leader James Orengo and his National Assembly counterparts John Mbadi and Junet Mohamed are free to discipline errant members. 

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